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sea monkeys invade worth abbey

This weekend the Federation of Children's Book Group conference had an infestation! Two Oxford University Press publicists, both named Charlotte, both have mothers who can knit and both mothers made wonderfully cheeky Sea Monkeys. Here's Charlotte Armstrong, with the Sea Monkey who kept cracking jokes, asking how to get this lady off its bum.



We had several people ask where they could get a Sea Monkey, and the answer is... you can knit one yourself! Or find a friend who can! Free pattern on my website, developed by my studio mate Deadly Knitshade; do click over if you want your very own Sea Monkey.



When Philip Reeve and I first started doing Oliver and the Seawigs events, we focused more on how we met, and decided to start writing books together. But these days we're having more fun talking about the actual story. Here we are, enacting the scene when Mr and Mrs Crisp meet at the top of Mt Everest.


Photo tweeted by @FCBGNews

Now I saw this 'Going Down' advice in last Saturday's Guardian, and I'm setting out to prove them wrong.



Anyone can rock glasses and a frock if they can draw, they're wearing a squid on their head and playing a ukulele. True fact.



One of the great things about the conference was getting to hear other authors give presentations. Here's a drawing I did in pen of illustrator and writer Cressida Cowell, talking with Caroline Horn about her book series, How to Train Your Dragon.



Cressida also talked about having big films made of her stories, and how she was offered the chance to write the screenplay, but turned it down so she could focus on her books. You might have seen the first film already, and here's the trailer for the second film, coming out this summer:



Another fascinating thing was listening to her talk about her childhood holidays on an uninhabited island in Scotland, where they were able to run completely wild and encounter weird and wonderful wildlife:



The next day, after our event, Philip and I got to hear writer Meg Rosoff talk about writing, about how our brains are a sort of colander; we experience lots of things, and most of the things we forget. But some of the things mash down inside and begin to form something as they liquify and ferment, and start to create something new. She said she took comfort, years back, in something Philip said about writing books and throwing many stories away before hitting on the one he's happy with; she'd struggled with periods where she just couldn't get a book to work. But looking back, she'd realise that this time was important, is was when the story she really wanted to tell was quietly arranging itself in the back of her head. I should add that Meg also has a recent film adaptation of her book, How I Live Now, which I definitely want to see:



I didn't manage to get a photo of Meg, and the drawing didn't really turn out (I drew a colander on her head and it didn't look like her at all.) But I bought a copy of her latest book, Picture Me Gone, which I'm very much looking forward to reading. Marilyn Brocklehurst was running a great bookshop on site, so I also picked up a copy of Alex Milway's brand-new Pigsticks & Harold illustrated book, which is a lovely cross between a chapter book, picture book and comic. And Letters to Klaus, which is going out of print and contains a lovely gallery of illustrated envelopes by Satoshi Kitamura, David McKee and others. (You can have a peek at it over on Booktrust's website.)



Thanks so much to FCBG for inviting Philip and me, to Louise Stothard and Damian Kelleher for introducing us, to Marilyn Brocklenhurst for selling our books, to Hattie Bayly and Charlotte Armstrong from OUP for looking after us, to the monastery for yummy food (Worth Abbey's a gorgeous place; I'd wish I'd had more time to explore), and to everyone who made our visit so much fun!